In simple terms, an affinity group is a set of people with a common purpose or interest that interact with each other on a regular basis. They are different from other collaborative teams in that the primary purpose of bringing the group together is to share information and perspective that would otherwise not be readily available to members. Specific objectives can come from the interactions among members, leading to more organized and purposeful work.
Community collaboration software can be helpful in the execution of affinity groups by making it easier for members to interact and share information. The following characteristics of the affinity group should be considered in selecting the appropriate software.
Nature of the Affinity Group’s Activities
For some groups, meeting face-to-face or via a web conference is all the interaction that is ever needed or desired. For these groups, email and web conferencing tools such as Zoom or Go-to-Meeting are sufficient.
In other groups, ongoing exchange of reports, data and communications are a requirement. File sharing tools, discussion groups and shared calendars should be included. For other groups that are working toward specific objectives and outcomes, project or task management tools should also be considered.
Purpose in the Context of the Host Organization
Affinity groups can be used as a fundamental way to advance the mission of the host organization. As an example, nonprofit associations use affinity groups to bring together members who would like to learn from each other about fundraising, advocacy, causes, etc. For these groups, software should allow prospective new members to sign up from your website and select different groups/subgroups in which they would like to participate.
For some organizations, affinity groups are a source of revenue, so integration with payment software can be helpful. Document sharing and collaboration software should enhance the brand of the host organization by, for example, driving people to the host organization’s website and/or using the company logo in the workspace.
Affinity groups can also be used to support ancillary initiatives that are not tied directly to the mission of the organizations but are more supportive. As an example, corporations demonstrate the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion by enabling minority-focused affinity groups. The requirement for integrations, payments and brand development for these types of groups is not as significant.
Number of Organizations Involved
Members of affinity groups can all be a part of the same organization; for example, those working across geographic regions in a single organization. These groups often use collaboration software that the organization is already using, such as internal document sharing software, Slack, or Microsoft Teams.
More commonly, affinity groups are formed across organizations (e.g. in a consortium of higher education institutions focused on student success), or among members of a professional association. In this case, careful consideration must be given to how easy it is to access and use the software, as members may already be overwhelmed by the platforms they need to access in their day jobs and personal lives.
Cureo is a great solution for affinity groups with members from multiple organizations:
- Cureo provides leaders of the affinity groups tools such as document sharing, shared calendars, task management, publishing, discussion groups and activity tracking to help them with facilitating the interactions of the group.
- Because it integrates with common email, calendar, and website platforms, members won’t have to learn new software.
- Cureo drives members back to your brand, not some third party website, and it gets everyone out of email purgatory.
- Cureo integrates with membership platforms and CRM, to make it easier to manage your relationships.